Friday, January 9, 2015

convicted, restored and moving forward

Titus 2:1, 7
But as for you, promote the kind of living that reflects right teaching.
Let everything you do (say and think) reflect the integrity of your teaching.

Ephesians 5:1-2, 8-13, 15, 17
Follow God’s example in everything you do, because you are his dear children.
Live a life filled with love for others, following the example of Christ…
For though your hearts were once full of darkness,
now you are full of light  from the Lord, and your behavior should show it!
For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true.
Try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord.
Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness;
instead rebuke and expose them.
When the light shines on them it becomes clear how evil these things are.
So be careful how you live, not as fools but as those who are wise…
Don’t act thoughtlessly, but try to understand what the Lord wants you to do…
let the Holy Spirit fill and control you.

Psalm 139: 23-24
23Search me, God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting.

Psalm 51:10
10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
    and renew a steadfast spirit within me.


In prayer this morning, I asked Jesus to let me know again if there was anything at all within me that I was holding onto – anything keeping me from being my best for Him.  Anything that might be hindering me from doing all the good He has prepared and called me to.  I prayed my Lord would use the Spirit within me to bring any lurking offenses to the front of my mind and show me so that I could push them out and surrender again wholly to Him to be used as He would for this ministry He’s growing in my life.  I pray this way every so often because I know, I know that there are always going to be things in my heart and mind that need to be dealt with, that need to be purged in order to be fully surrendered in my walk.  That the surrendering or giving over of my life is not a once and for all sort of matter, but a continual process of recommitting and constant letting go, pushing aside all else and choosing intently to run toward God.  I asked God to help me be very cautious about what I allowed into my mind, what I listened to and entertained, what sorts of activities I indulged in, and also that He would help me be very vigilant about guarding my thought life so that nothing could come between Him and I and all this great work He is doing. 

I continued about my day, doing laundry and dishes, praying all the while – having learned I could still be Mary and get housework done by intently focusing my mind on and drawing God into the situation (regardless of what task was at hand), thereby choosing to seek Him in all that I do.  I realized as I was praying that I was very much being led by the Spirit (which is the usual way of things lately since I’ve begun walking so closely and spending so much dedicated time pursuing God), but that truths were being revealed to me that were certainly not coming from my own human ability to reason and understand.  I thanked Jesus for this gift of wisdom and for answering a prayer from a week or more ago that He would lead me into a more conversational form of prayer – so that it wouldn’t be so much of me praying, praying, praying… and then sitting still to hear from Him.   (Although, that is very  well and good, I very much wanted to develop our rapport and expand upon various means of communicating with each other.)

I began reading in the Bible as led by the Spirit and was convicted of something I’d said a couple days ago while visiting with my friend.  I’d made a couple disparaging comments about my lament of an observed overall tendency of most folks to wander around in blissful ignorance – although I did not express it quite that gracefully.   I was also convicted in those quiet moments of reflection of previous conversations that God had brought to my attention before – conversations with other friends that I knew in the moment were less than pleasing to Him, but still had enjoyed quite thoroughly.  I knew for a while that God was trying to deal with me out of love on this subject, but I wasn’t really sure how to change or address what has long been a perfectly acceptable subject of conversation between us. So every time I talked to this one friend in particular, this same subject matter kept coming up & each time I’d get off the phone, I’d feel the same twinge of conviction in my heart that I’d let God down AGAIN.  And wasn’t I going to do something about that?  Wasn’t I going to acknowledge that God didn’t care too much for what really boiled down to my engaging in conversations that amounted to making fun of His dearly beloved children. 


It is really hard for me to put that out there, to confess to you my faults.   Thus far, I’m sure it’s appeared from the contents of this blog I have this great faith gifted of God and probably don’t wrestle with stuff like this.  Nope.  I’m still human – I’m totally flawed.  There, I said it.  Yes, I do have an amazing relationship with God, one for which I’m incredibly thankful – one I long to share with you…. And there’s still more to be taught here in this message, but let’s just be clear, ok?  The one writing this is totally 100% fallible and imperfect, just as we all are.  I am, just as Jesus said Himself, a work in progress; I always will be.  The messages, though, are from God.  So, yep, you can believe I’m still gonna make mistakes.  And you can trust I’ll be honest with you about them when I do.  But I’ll also tell you how God’s dealt with me and taught me from them because this is what He does; THIS is how He refines us and makes us more and more into His likeness as we draw near to Him.

Back to the praying part…

Spending quiet time thinking, Jesus begins to help me to understand more now why this is such a big deal – why these conversations bother Him so much.  It should be well and good enough that He says, “Michelle, this is not pleasing to me, don’t engage in this anymore…” – that should be enough.  But He knows I’m stubborn, so out of His great loving kindness a lot of the time He explains stuff to me in a way that I’ll “get it” so I can do the work of digging in and letting go of whatever bad behavior or habit that needs to be gotten rid of.  He brought back to my mind as I was sitting there in reflection how much it hurt when I overheard those folks at Home Depot making fun of me.  How much it stung to my very innermost core.  And then (and this is entirely God revealed) I realized that when I’d made those harsh disparaging remarks about ignorant people, I was speaking of God’s dearly beloved children. 

And even though those people couldn’t hear me – God could.
And even though they weren’t hurt – God was. 

Every time I said something awful about another person, it stung God’s heart just like what I had felt standing in the middle of Home Depot.  When I had those conversations and laughed uproariously at my friend’s impersonation of folks that drove us a little nutty, it cut to Jesus’ innermost being because those are His beloved and cherished people.  Sure, I justified within myself that it was ok because they couldn’t hear it so no one got hurt, right?  Oh, no… Jesus, my LOVE… He heard every single word.  Every awful comment broke His heart because they’re not just His people – they are His body… we are all His body – the Body of Christ.  I tried to wrap my brain around the truth that every time I said something terrible or laughed at some joke someone else made, it hurt HIM.  Oh, wow.  Yeah, when I realized that… then I got it.  Then I understood.   

Then I acknowledge with Jesus where we are.  Something HAS to change – I can’t very well have those conversations anymore knowing all THIS.  I asked Him point blank how I’m supposed to change the nature of our accepted subject matter for our conversations because of the work He’s doing in me (the changes He’s making) without coming across as self-righteous and indignant.  Then, and this is GOOD… and that’s how I know it was from the Spirit and not my own idea… I asked Jesus to give me a bigger heart of compassion because that would take care of the whole problem.  I would be able to respond out of love and compassion rather than judgment or rebuke.  And it would make clear (without condemning my friend) that those sorts of comments are not something I’m interested in joking about anymore.  And maybe it would come up in conversation a few more times, but eventually they’d get the idea that I’m not the person to talk to about this kind of thing anymore… And hopefully at some point, Jesus can have this conversation with them, or open a door for me to share from a place of love what’s changed in my life as far as why I’m not laughing anymore. 


My specific words to Jesus I will share in case you might have the same struggle… so that you can walk with me in this changing…

Create in me a clean heart, O God – give me a bigger heart of compassion, full of love like Yours for Your people so that I am constantly refined and transformed from within, conformed heart and mind to the likeness of Christ that I would see and think of others always as You do – and consider all that I think and say of them as how it would affect Your heart to hear and feel. 
Remake me in Your image – transformed bit by bit, changed from glory to glory – help me to forget the old Michelle and press forward to the new that You are making in me that with each day, each lesson You teach me, I would die more to self and that You would live in me.

Less of me, less of my human nature and the evil natural self and its tendencies and more of Your light and love until I am but a reflection of You, Lord.  Yes, I am blessed to be corrected and restored – to be made right with You and taught from my mistakes – to live and grow, moving ever forward on this journey with You, being drawn nearer to You.

Praise You for helping me to be quiet enough to hear You in my heart – for blessing me with discernment that I can recognize Your Voice and when the Spirit is leading me – Glory to You for making me humble enough to know no matter how close You draw me near, I will always be flawed this side of Heaven & always be needful of Your Grace.

Praise You that You have invited me into this beautiful relationship with You and for instilling in me the desire to respond to the invitation.  Praise You for pursuing me all the days of my life, that Your Love never fails, never gives up, never runs out on me. 

I adore You for being who You are in my life and for giving me understanding of who I am to You – for showing me that my identity is based on Your Great Unfailing Love for me alone.  Not on anything I’ve done or haven’t done, not on anything that’s ever been spoken to or over me, not on anything that has or ever will happen to me, not on what anyone else thinks or judges of me…
My meaning is solely defined in that I am Your beloved masterpiece with whom You are well pleased.  That You approve of me and adore, cherish and treasure me as precious – You always have and You always will – and the great and brilliantly beautiful, most wondrous PROMISE that NOTHING can EVER separate me from Your Love.

Praise Father God, Jesus, my Savior, Lover of my Soul, and Precious Spirit that abides within me every moment I have breath.  And oh, the great wonder that even in the midst of this exultant ecstasy as I write today, still my joy is yet to be made full and complete – that even as You promise to show and lead me into new and glorious mercies with each day, no matter how good it gets, the amazing PROMISE that always the best is yet to come!   That even as much as You give me here on earth, my true treasure and the full measure of joy and understanding of Your Love is still awaiting me on that blessed day You bring me Home.

But for now, we have work to do.  And I am so overjoyed You have called me to help You as part of Your plan.  Please bless this message and anyone who reads it that they might come to know You more.

For Your Glory, Your Honor,
Your Name and Your Kingdom!
Now and Forever!
Amen! <3


If you need to come to God and ask Him to search your heart
to see if there is any behavior or manner of thinking
within you that is offensive to Him
or that might be in some way keeping you from His very best,
I encourage you to pray and listen to
by Audio Adrenaline
and allow God to move in your heart.


Thank you for joining me today.
I pray this message has blessed you in some way,
even if just to encourage you and remind you
we are ALL works in progress,
ALL needful of His Redeeming Grace...
And none of that lessens His Great and Amazing Love for us.


Until next time...

Be Blessed! <3

© K. Michelle Payne 2015

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